Saturday, I visited a book store in the area. I go there often, and things are usually the same, people standing quietly in the check-out line, some thumbing through books, others sipping coffee and relaxing in comfortable chairs.
But Saturday's visit was bizarre.
I was thumbing through books, stifling the urge to grab all of my favorite writers' latest books and make a beeline for the check-out. So I decided to distract myself by looking at the biographies. I had forgotten where they were located, so when I spotted a young man who appeared to be stocking shelves near a Star Trek display, I walked over to him.
"Excuse me," I said, "Can you tell me where I can find the biographies?"
He stood and crossed his arms. "Yes, ma'am," he said in a deep voice, "I can." He pointed to the Star Trek display. "Right there."
"Right there, ma'am," he said, "You'll find out everything you need to know in Star Trek."
I thanked him and began walking away. Hurriedly.
"I don't work here, ma'am," he called, "But it's all there. In Star Trek!"
Later, as I was standing in the check-out line, I noticed that the cashier resembled Miss Pincher, a stern-faced librarian at Illinois State University. I often had run-ins with her when I forgot to take books back on time.
She looked at me over her spectacles as she rang up my purchases. "Do you have a picture of one of your children?"
"If you have a picture of any of your children," she said, "You'll get five dollars off your purchase."
"No, I don't."
"You don't have a picture of any of your children in your purse?" (She not only looked like Miss Pincher, she talked like Miss Pincher!)
"No, I don't. But my daughter shops here a lot. Does that count?"
Several customers behind me snickered.
"No," Miss Pincher said, "That doesn't count. You've got to have a picture. Do you have one?"
"Well," I said, "I'm beginning to feel kind of bad about it, but no, I do not have a picture of my daughter in my purse."
"Don't worry, honey," called a woman from the back of the line, "I don't have any either. I left all mine at home in my other purse!"
As I was leaving the store, I was stopped by a familiar voice: "Ma'am! Ma'am!"
I turned and found myself face-to-face with Mr. Star Trek. "Ma'am," he said, smiling ear to ear, "Did you find everything you needed?"
Over his shoulder, Miss Pincher glared at me.